Recently a poster suggested that ADHD is not real - and that those who have ADHD only exhibit the symptoms because they think they have ADHD - in other words, they convince themselves into having ADHD. Maybe I'm just cranky about all of the 'alternative facts' versions of reality I'm getting pelted with these days, but this idea really fired me up. I can't just let it go. Because it's egregiously and outrageously wrong...and spreading myths like this is really hurtful to people who have to figure out how to live with - and manage - ADHD.
It is a well documented FACT that ADHD is real - here's what two top researchers said about this question:
"Statements to the effect that ADHD is not a valid disorder, is a myth created by mercenary pharmaceutical companies or mental health professionals for sheer commercial gain, or is indistinct from the other disorders with which it may be associated are not only wrong, they are egregiously so. Numerous difference emerged in the context of these two studies between those with ADHD and general population (community) controls and between those with ADHD and Clinical control groups (those with other mental health diagnoses) that make such assertions moribund. To continue to make such statements in the face of such overwhelming evidence to the contrary is to show either a stunning scientific illiteracy or reflect planned religious or political propaganda intended to deceive the uninformed or unsuspecting general public." (Barkley, Murphy and Fischer ADHD in Adults: What the Science Says, p. 435)
Individual people may not LIKE ADHD or the fact that it exists and impacts millions of people, but the actual facts (vs. the opinion or alternative facts this poster was passing along as fact) are unassailable. It DOES exist, and it DOES matter. About 5% of adult have ADHD. It is tied physiological differences in the brain (both in amount of neurotransmitters in the reward and attention systems, and in the size of certain areas of the brain. It's not about willpower. Anyone who wants to further pursue the question of whether the researchers (and the CDC) have gotten this right can take a look at the book above, which includes a thorough review of not only the two longitudinal studies mentioned in the quote, but also covers and references over 360 other studies about ADHD and its impact.
The myth that ADHD is not real or is somehow a moral failing (either not trying hard enough, or something you cook up to be able to get attention) is crazy and hurtful talk. It perpetuates the idea that ADHD is something to be ashamed about; that seeking good treatment (especially medications) shouldn't be necessary - thus impeding treatment; and this myth tears families apart ('if you would just try harder, you could just get over this.')
I'm tired of people pushing alternative facts in a whole lot of arenas these days. My small contribution in the war on science is to set the record straight about ADHD.
Pass this along to anyone who cares about ADHD.